pokemaniacal

Roommates - Ch. 14 (Calling the Bluff)

Dec 19th, 2015
1,586
Never
Not a member of Pastebin yet? Sign Up, it unlocks many cool features!
  1. Roommates has moved! You can now read it at Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/works/11250126/navigate
  2.  
  3. Roommates - Ch. 14 (Calling the Bluff): http://i.imgur.com/OhAm3gE.png
  4. Inspired by Weaver's Five Nights at Freddy's Apartment AU: http://i.imgur.com/LnDJVNL.png
  5. Part of an ongoing series written for the /5N@F/ General Discussion Thread at /vg/.
  6. Sincerest thanks to Weaver (http://tgweaver.tumblr.com/) for all of the invaluable assistance in writing, proofreading, and editing this story as well as for illustrating the chapter title cards.
  7. Questions or comments? Drop me an ask at http://roommatesau.tumblr.com/
  8.  
  9. ---
  10.  
  11. The veggie tray and salad brought by Bonbon comprises the entirety of your lunch. Ordinarily you might be inclined to turn your nose up at a plate of nothing but fruits and veggies, but after the disappointing frozen breakfast you forced yourself to swallow this morning, you have to admit that this is much closer to the kind of fare you've grown accustomed to. While it's nowhere near as tasty as Freddy's style of cooking, it's certainly far more palatable than Bonworth's collection of frozen heat-and-serve meals.
  12.  
  13. "Mike, right? I'm so sorry about that little freakout back there." Beanie pops a baby carrot in her mouth, chewing awkwardly. "You reminded me of, uh, a guy I work with."
  14.  
  15. "Sounds like he's a real piece of work, then," you answer, taking a sip of your lemonade. "Don't worry about it."
  16.  
  17. Bonworth's little sister, born Bonita Lilac Rabbinson (known better as "Beanpole" or just "Beanie" for short) couldn't be any more the opposite of her brother if she tried. In stark contrast to Bonworth's cloying, antagonistic, and in-your-face exuberance, Beanie's demeanor is dry, acerbic and almost a little TOO low-key. Compared to her obnoxious brother, you already find her far more agreeable to be around.
  18.  
  19. "Thanks for being cool about it," Beanie says. "I didn't mean to slam the door in your face, just a force of habit I guess."
  20.  
  21. "Lot of creepers in your line of work?" you ask sympathetically.
  22.  
  23. "You have no idea," Beanie, Cheeky, and Peanut all reply simultaneously before exchanging knowing glances with one another.
  24.  
  25. "Whoa, surround sound in here," you joke.
  26.  
  27. "Well, you sure missed a humdinger of a game session, little bunny!" Bonworth exclaims. "Oh, you should have seen it. Everyone up and at 'em, flailing around for everything they were worth! Even Chica here broke a sweat."
  28.  
  29. "I think I broke more than a sweat," Cheeky says, looking at you with genuine embarrassment.
  30.  
  31. "I'll say," he replies blithely, his trademark grin firmly cemented in place. "You almost snapped ol' Mike in half as well when you flopped onto him like a guppy out of water."
  32.  
  33. "Don't remind me," she moans. "Oh, man, Mike. You really aren't having a banner day, are you."
  34.  
  35. "I'll be fine, Cheeky," you insist, fixing Bonworth with a glare. "This stuff happens. That's something Bonworth would know if he'd gotten off his ass and tried."
  36.  
  37. "Harsh, Mike," Bonworth chortles. "Did I strike a nerve?"
  38.  
  39. You refuse to dignify him with an answer.
  40.  
  41. Relieved that you don't seem too terribly upset, Cheeky gently strokes your leg with a feathertip.
  42.  
  43. "Just let me know if you want me to kiss it better," she winks, coyly snagging another ants-on-a-log off of the plastic tray in front of you.
  44.  
  45. "All right then, everybody," Bonbon says as she gets up. "I think it's about time for me an' Peanut to be heading back."
  46.  
  47. "What, already? But I just got here," Beanie snarks. "Was it something I didn't say?"
  48.  
  49. "Oh, Beanie, you're so funny," Bonbon says. "You know full well the new episode of Legend of Bob comes on in fifteen minutes and I don't want to miss it."
  50.  
  51. "Ahhh, right -- your bizarre human fetish," Beanie groans. "Don't you have a DVR to record that crap so you can watch it on your own time? You know, like a normal person?"
  52.  
  53. She reaches for another carrot only for Bonbon to nearly slam her paw in the plastic container in her haste to leave. With a finger pointed high in the air like some kind of dynamic action pose, Bonbon's eyes twinkle.
  54.  
  55. "Yeah, but that's only so that I can rewatch it later and catch everything I missed the first time! Any true fan knows you've gotta watch it first-run for the authentic, live experience!" she gushes. "Come on, Beanie -- it's geek culture 101!"
  56.  
  57. "Please don't say 'geek culture' ever again," Beanie mutters.
  58.  
  59. Rolling to his feet, Peanut begins helping Bonbon box up the mostly-empty plastic containers.
  60.  
  61. "Um, thanks for inviting us," he says with a timid smile.
  62.  
  63. "Glad you could make it. Certainly was a lot more lively having you all here," Bonworth says.
  64.  
  65. "Yeah. Thanks for the near-coronary, Bonbon," Cheeky adds as you get up to let Peanut and Bonbon out. "Let's do this again next year, but give me plenty of warning first so I'll know not to be here when it happens."
  66.  
  67. Walking Bonbon and Peanut over to the door, you tap Bonbon on the shoulder as she's headed out.
  68.  
  69. "Mmm?"
  70.  
  71. "I appreciate you guys coming over," you reply quietly, taking care to keep your voice down. "It's probably for the best, since I don't know if I could have stomached an entire afternoon of Bonworth's shit."
  72.  
  73. "Bonworth's?" She gives you an odd tilt of her head, seemingly confused. "What are you talking about? Bonworth's a great guy, Mike."
  74.  
  75. "Coulda fooled me," you mutter as she leaves. Still, maybe she knows something you don't. You internally resolve to at least try to see the rest of the afternoon through.
  76.  
  77. "So what was this about cards or whatever?" Beanie asks as soon as you return to the apartment's common area.
  78.  
  79. Now that all the cleaning's been done and the guests have left, Bonworth finally sees fit to get up off his lazy ass. Staggering over to the hall closet, he begins rummaging through cardboard file boxes full of toys and games, most of which you're assuming belong to Foxy.
  80.  
  81. "Yes ma'am, we've got all sorts of games here!" he grins, dusting the cover of a container off so he can read the label. "What've you got a hankering for, Beanie? Monotony? Chinese checkers? Ooh -- how about a rip-roarin' game of Go Fish?"
  82.  
  83. "Poker," she answers, scratching one of her ears absently. "Texas hold 'em, preferably."
  84.  
  85. "You're joshing me!" he declares with an awestruck grin. "My little sister, a card shark! No way!"
  86.  
  87. "Foxy's been on this big TV poker championship kick lately," she replies, cracking her knuckles. "What can I say -- after having to choke down several episodes a week, I guess it's rubbed off on me."
  88.  
  89. "Well, let's do it then! Mike, you know how to play?" he asks, pulling out a deck of playing cards.
  90.  
  91. "I think so," you respond. "That the one where everyone tries to make the best hand with the four cards they're dealt and the three on the table?"
  92.  
  93. "Omaha's four cards -- Texas is two," Beanie says, "but yeah, that's basically it. It's not that hard to play, you'll get the hang of it quick. Cheeky, you know how to play too, right?"
  94.  
  95. "Oh, sure! We played strip poker all the time in high school," Cheeky says.
  96.  
  97. "Well, better than middle school, I guess," Beanie deadpans as the four of you regroup in the living room.
  98.  
  99.  
  100.  
  101. Early on, it looked like luck would be in your favor. You won a sizable showdown versus Cheeky and took a fair share of her chips, and even started to whittle away at Beanie's pile. Unfortunately, the tide has since quickly turned. Several hands ago, Bonworth elevated the pot multiple times with such fervor you were convinced he was bluffing -- only for his pocket aces to shatter all of your hard-earned momentum. You've been lured into a few showdowns with him since, most of which have met with similarly tragic results.
  102.  
  103. "Ah, would you look at that?" he croons, playing his hand again. "The big R-S-F -- that stands for royal straight flush, for those not in the know!"
  104.  
  105. "We're in the know," you groan. "We absolutely -- we are ABSOLUTELY in the know."
  106.  
  107. "Just be glad we're not playing for real money," Beanie says, swigging down her cherry soda while Bonworth rakes in his winnings.
  108.  
  109. "It's not too late to do it my way," Cheeky suggests. "You look awful hot in that hoodie, Beanie. Don't you think so, Mike?"
  110.  
  111. "I'll thank you not to drag my baby sister into such debauchery, Chica," Bonworth coughs as Cheeky waggles her eyebrows seductively at you.
  112.  
  113. "Besides, I'm pretty sure strip poker isn't an officially sanctioned method of play anyway," Beanie replies easily.
  114.  
  115. "Well anyhow, I must be a dehydrated grape -- 'cuz I'm raisin'," Bonworth challenges, splashing the pot with a large handful of chips.
  116.  
  117. "Yeah, no," Cheeky huffs as she and Beanie fold almost simultaneously.
  118.  
  119. "I think these two have the right idea. I'll fold as well," you reply. Ordinarily you'd never throw away a pair of sixes, but Bonworth seems truly serious about the hand.
  120.  
  121. "Come on, Mike," he laughs, goading you along. "What are you sitting on over there, couple of face cards? Decent pair? You'd really toss that away for little ol' me?"
  122.  
  123. You inwardly cringe -- how in the hell did he know? You glance over at Beanie and Cheeky, wondering if they're feeding him information on your hand just to mess with you -- but each of them are far enough away that they couldn't hope to see your cards. Realizing he's getting to you, Bonworth goads you further.
  124.  
  125. "Be a man, Mike. See the hand through," he says.
  126.  
  127. "That's my decision to make, Bonworth -- not yours," you assert. "I fold. The blinds are yours."
  128.  
  129. "Afraid of the challenge, pal? I'll make it easy on you." He flips over his hand -- ace of clubs, three of spades. "See the hand through, Mike."
  130.  
  131. "Oooh, things are heating up over here," Beanie mock announces, using her soda can as a surrogate microphone. "Will he do it? Will Mike go for the big play, or will he kowtow to Bonworth's incredibly cheesy intimidation tactics?"
  132.  
  133. What is it with this guy today? Did he just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or has his fake ragtime veneer finally worn through to reveal his true personality? Either way, you're seizing the opportunity to put him in his place.
  134.  
  135. "I'd still have folded especially after you having shown me that hand, but you just insist on me beating your ass," you stoically declare. Calling Bonworth's bet, you flip your pair of sixes.
  136.  
  137. "Hey, solid hand, pal!" he cheers. "Still, it's not over yet, right?"
  138.  
  139. Having shoved an uncomfortable portion of your chips into the pile, you're fairly certain you won't have enough in reserve to make a recovery should you lose the hand. Of course, the opportunity to put a huge dent in Bonworth's pile and potentially claim a major advantage if you win is just too tempting -- and at the end of the day you've got a decent enough hand you might just be able to pull it off.
  140.  
  141. "Four on the flop," he says as Beanie deals the cards.
  142.  
  143. "King of hearts on the turn. Looking good for you, Mike," Cheeky says.
  144.  
  145. She drums her fingers on her thighs enthusiastically as Beanie makes a show of flipping the last card -- and of course, it would be the freaking ace of clubs.
  146.  
  147. Bonworth whoops, sweeping the poker chips over to his ever-growing pile so he can begin stacking them into little towers.
  148.  
  149. "And the higher pair goes to me! Two of a kind for a one-of-a-kind guy!" Bonworth rewards you with a condescending smile. "Ah, cheer up, Mike. Show's not over yet, bucko!"
  150.  
  151. "Why am I not surprised?" You slump back against your pillow, trying not to look completely crestfallen.
  152.  
  153. "What a REALLY lucky hand, Bon," Cheeky smirks, rubbing her beak.
  154.  
  155. "For real," you reply. "Y'know what, screw it. I think I will take that beer now if you don't mind, Cheeky."
  156.  
  157. She nods sagely, getting up and heading to the kitchen while Beanie shuffles the deck again.
  158.  
  159. "Oh, nice job with the fridge, Mike! I can actually find stuff in there now," she says, returning with two bottles in hand and a chocolate bar nestled securely under one wing. You accept your drink with a half-smile.
  160.  
  161. "Thanks, Cheeky. Glad to know my services are appreciated by SOMEONE."
  162.  
  163. "Yeah, yeah," Bonworth says, tossing a handful of chips in the air and letting them fall loosely into his lap. "Deal us in, little bunny!"
  164.  
  165. Beanie rolls her eyes at her brother, passing out the next round of cards. Taking yours, you check your hand. Ace and king, both hearts. Finally, something you can work with. You make a show of deciding what to do, then toss a few chips from your modest pile into the center of the floor in an attempt to draw Bonworth out.
  166.  
  167. "Don't get all crazy on us now with that colossal bet, Mike," Cheeky laughs as she and Bonworth eagerly call.
  168.  
  169. "Crap here," Beanie shrugs, tossing her cards. "I'd blame the dealer, but, y'know."
  170.  
  171. Beanie reveals a three of spades on the flop, and after a round of checks follows it up with a seven of diamonds on the turn. You decide to make your move, placing the largest bet you can manage. You're not all-in, but for all intents and purposes you might as well be, given that if you whiff again the blinds alone will be your undoing.
  172.  
  173. Bonworth straightens his bowtie and smoothes back the fur on his head like he's posing for a photo op.
  174.  
  175. "I can see the headlines now: Mike Loses Card Game."
  176.  
  177. "Doesn't sound like much of a headline," you reply.
  178.  
  179. "Wouldn't be much of a story," he returns, flipping one of his towering pillars of chips off of the armrest of his chair. Cheeky backs off, but you stand your ground.
  180.  
  181. "Let's see the river, ol' Bean," Bonworth insists.
  182.  
  183. "You're way too into this," Beanie admonishes, flipping the final card over. The king of spades greets you and your heart swells.
  184.  
  185. "How about it, ol' pal?" you mock, turning over your cards triumphantly.
  186.  
  187. "Well, I'll be." Bonworth leans back in his chair with a grin before smugly revealing the ace of diamonds and the ace of clubs.
  188.  
  189. "Oh, for crying out loud!" you choke.
  190.  
  191. "The look on your face, Mike!" Bonworth cackles, slapping his armrest multiple times.
  192.  
  193. "Were you just BORN lucky?" you ask, tossing the last of your chips into Cheeky's stack.
  194.  
  195. His smile fades ever so slightly. "Luck's what you make of it," Bonworth replies after a moment's hesitation.
  196.  
  197. "Quality work, Bonworth," Beanie muses as she idly turns one of his cards over a few times while he sets about building a shoddy house out of his winnings. He doesn't say anything, instead flashing her a cocky grin as you slump over pathetically on the floor.
  198.  
  199. The rest of the poker tournament, if you could call it that, goes much the same way. Beanie and Cheeky play their hearts out, but Bonworth's luck is unreal, and it isn't long before they bust out mere minutes apart from each other.
  200.  
  201. "Here's your card, sir," Beanie says with a graceful flourish, handing Bonworth one of the cards from the pack. He winks, tucking it behind his ear with a low whistle before carefully nesting the poker chips back into their plastic tray.
  202.  
  203. "Well, this has been delightful, but I'd better shove off. Fred'll be home soon and it's my turn to cook dinner tonight," Beanie announces as she loads up the playing cards back into their deck box. "See you guys. Nice meeting you, Mike, and sorry again about the whole slamming the door in your face thing."
  204.  
  205. "I guess I just have one of those faces," you jest. She grins back, clearly glad you aren't the type to hold a grudge. "Take it easy, Beanie."
  206.  
  207.  
  208.  
  209. After an hour or so of zoning out to television, Cheeky begs off to take a nap. "That's the most excitement I've had in a while. Wake me up in an hour so I don't oversleep."
  210.  
  211. "Just you and me then, sport," Bonworth says, settling into his recliner.
  212.  
  213. "That's a good point, actually. Where's Foxy been all day?" you inquire, trying not to sound too concerned. The thought of being trapped alone in the room with Bonworth makes you want to rip your hair out.
  214.  
  215. "Ol' Foxy? Spending time with Faz, I'd wager. They're pretty close." He flips channels aimlessly, not seeming to find anything piquing his interest.
  216.  
  217. You nod. "That makes sense."
  218.  
  219. After watching Bonworth rapidly flip past every channel available through their cable package at least twice, you begin to grow restless. On the third revolution of channel surfing, you can't take it anymore. Getting up from your chair, you grab your coat off the rack by the front door.
  220.  
  221. "Was it something I said?" he jeers.
  222.  
  223. "Just going out for some fresh air," you insist. "Won't be long."
  224.  
  225. "Capital idea," he replies, shakily standing up and collecting his sportcoat. "Wait a second and I'll join you."
  226.  
  227. You stomp out onto the outside balcony, quickly descending the stairs.
  228.  
  229. "Mike, we going for a walk or a jog?" Bonworth jokes, stumbling to keep up with you.
  230.  
  231. "Hah! After all that guff you were giving Cheeky about being our 'resident couch potato' you can't handle a little exercise yourself?" you accuse, jabbing him in the stomach as he descends.
  232.  
  233. "I prefer to think of myself as more of a performer than athlete," he says, clutching the handrails nervously as he steps out onto the lower level landing.
  234.  
  235. "Oh, I don't doubt that you're quite the performer," you mutter under your breath, taking off down the sidewalk.
  236.  
  237. The two of you walk in silence through the apartment complex for several minutes. Well, walking's not quite correct. You're powerwalking and Bonworth is more or less bumbling along trying to keep pace. Eventually he manages to overtake you, teetering down the sidewalk ahead of you while trying to look you in the eye.
  238.  
  239. "Mike, I, uh -- you aren't still sore about losing the poker game, are you?"
  240.  
  241. "Of course not," you mutter. "Life's full of winners and losers, isn't it? Sooner you sort out which one you are, the easier it'll be on you."
  242.  
  243. "Now that's some stinkin' thinkin', Mike," he reprimands, snagging your sleeve. There's that stupid phrase of his again. You wrench your arm away and resume your pace, not wanting to make eye contact with him.
  244.  
  245. "C'mon, Mike," he wheedles. "Look, it was all just a joke, fella! Didn't mean for it to get so out of hand -- we were just having a little fun at your expense since, you know, you're the new guy. Here, see?"
  246.  
  247. You stop, turning to look at him. He pulls the card from behind his ear -- the ace of clubs. So that's how he did it.
  248.  
  249. "Guess I'd never last a minute in Vegas," you grumble.
  250.  
  251. "Awww, it's like I said, luck's what you make of it. Just a little sleight of hand, Mike," Bonworth says earnestly. "I'd never hustle you in a real game. I thought for sure you'd have noticed after a couple hands. At that point it was just too funny to stop."
  252.  
  253. You wordlessly shake your head and resume walking at your previous pace. Tossing the card aside, Bonworth doggedly plows ahead after you.
  254.  
  255. "Look, I'm getting the feeling we got off to a real bad start here. C'mon, Mike, work with me. What's it gonna take to get you to -- hey, could you at least slow down? We're trying to have a conversation here and it's all I can do to keep up!"
  256.  
  257. "Slow down?" you reply with an exaggerated smile, hands pressed to your face.
  258.  
  259. "Mike--"
  260.  
  261. "Aw, shucks, Bonworth, now that's some stinkin' thinkin'!" you crow in a sing-song voice, stopping in your tracks and placing both hands on his shoulders.
  262.  
  263. He nervously smiles at you, but you can see a little bit of fear -- and something else -- in his eyes.
  264.  
  265. "Slow down?" you repeat again. "Look at you, you're about fit to have a stroke! Rabbits are supposed to be quick! After all, that's what they do, right?"
  266.  
  267. Your eyes widen, your grin exaggerated.
  268.  
  269. "They run," you whisper.
  270.  
  271. With a shove you send him backwards -- not hard, just enough to make the point to leave you alone.
  272.  
  273. Or at least, that's what you intended.
  274.  
  275. The back of Bonworth's right foot catches the edge of the curb. His legs stop but his body keeps going, as if he's falling to pieces. Bonworth tries to brace his fall with one of his arms, and you hear a horrible ringing noise like a dropped pipe as his forearm smashes against the pavement. He rolls onto his back, crying out in a mixture of pain and surprise.
  276.  
  277. Your stomach drops as your brain processes what you're seeing. His legs are disconnected from his pelvis entirely -- thin, rickety-looking old metal shafts with bulky joints and bracings, clattering to the ground with a terrible sound. His trousers hang loosely, draped over the stubby remnants of what's left of his thighs, the prosthetic braces that hold them in place now completely unbuckled.
  278.  
  279. It all makes sense now -- the goofy, bow-legged gait, the vehement refusal to take a turn earlier when you were playing the fitness video game. Sitting in the chair instead of on the floor when you ate lunch and played cards.
  280.  
  281.  
  282. Not "won't". Can't.
  283.  
  284.  
  285. "Oh, shit," you breathe, the animosity you've been letting fester completely forgotten in one fell swoop. You feel ill.
  286.  
  287. "Oh, wow, I'll be feeling that one in the morning," he grunts. Bonworth slowly pulls himself to a sitting position with an awkward smile. Looking down at himself, he cringes. "Ah, geez. I hope nobody got an eyeful of that."
  288.  
  289. With a grim smile, he clumsily pulls his trousers back on and begins rebuckling his prosthetics onto his thighs. You stoop and wrap one of his arms around your shoulder.
  290.  
  291. "Gee whillikers, Mike! I'm fine, you don't have to --"
  292.  
  293. "Shut up," you snap, biting your lower lip as you pull him back to a standing position. He flinches at your abruptness like a reprimanded child. "Sorry. Look, just -- just, stop talking. For five minutes, just stop trying to be funny, or cornpone, or -- whatever the hell it is that you do to hide who you really are."
  294.  
  295. "I've made a real mess of things, haven't I," he murmurs softly, ears uncharacteristically draped down behind him. For a fraction of a second, he looks just like Bonnibel would after having been scolded for not taking her medicine.
  296.  
  297. You don't immediately reply, grabbing the bridge of your nose and firmly pinching it in an effort to stop the growing mist in your eyes.
  298.  
  299. "What was today about?" you finally manage when you're positive that you've gotten yourself under control.
  300.  
  301. "I'm not rightly sure I take your meaning," he says carefully.
  302.  
  303. "When I first met you, you were -- just this wacky and, and -- goofball kind of..." You flail your arms around, trying to find the right words. "I don't even know what you'd call it, but I got that it's an act. But it seemed like a harmless act, so I just brushed it off as all part of your shtick. Today, though, you've just -- you've had it out for me."
  304.  
  305. "Dad-gum it all. I was just trying to... I guess I just wanted to reach you on your level, pal." He somberly hangs his head. "I'm real sorry, Mike. I never meant as to make you feel unwelcome in my home."
  306.  
  307. "Reach me on my level?" you ask, bewildered. "What does that even mean?"
  308.  
  309. "I was so excited to, you know, have someone new to talk to. We're kinda tucked away, the four of us. Not much for company apart from my sister when she can break away from work." Bonworth sheepishly pulls at one of his ears. "I got the impression from our first meeting, and then a little sly commentary from Chiclet that you were kind of this, y'know -- thick-skinned, rough-and-tumble sort of wiseguy, and so I just, uh -- 'tailored' my material to try to accommodate you."
  310.  
  311. "To accommodate me," you repeat.
  312.  
  313. "Or at least, that was what I thought I was doing. Looking back on today, I can see how you'd take offense." Wringing his paws, he looks at you with a pained smile. You start to open your mouth again, but he gently pats your shoulder. "Mike, this whole transition's gotta be real hard business -- first you lost your job, then your home, then you had to move in with a bunch of strangers. And just when you think you've found a place to hang your hat, you get me and Cheeky thrust upon you."
  314.  
  315. "Well, Cheeky's not that bad," you joke awkwardly.
  316.  
  317. Bonworth playfully winces. "Ouch! But see, that's the kind of thing right there," he says, tone measured and even -- like he's trying to avoid setting you off. "I just -- I got the impression that you were okay with jokes like that, which is kind of what I've been trying to go with. If I'd just had any indication I was bothering you... well, I guess I'm all wet at dry humor."
  318.  
  319. You're not sure what comes over you -- guilt, relief, sympathy, or maybe something else -- but you throw an arm around Bonworth in a sort of awkward half-hug, gently pounding his back with your fist.
  320.  
  321. "Nah, I'm sorry too," you sigh. "It's my fault. I should've just said something."
  322.  
  323. "No hard feelings." He embraces you back, staggering a little under the combined weight of you and himself. "Ooop. Careful, Mike! I don't want to give the peepin' toms in the neighborhood another look at me without my britches on."
  324.  
  325. You can't help but chuckle at the absurdity of the situation. "Seriously though, I'm sorry, Bonworth."
  326.  
  327. "Really, Mike, don't sweat the small stuff -- and it's all small stuff."
  328.  
  329. "How about we get some takeout for dinner, then?" you ask. "Know anywhere good in the area?"
  330.  
  331. "Would you settle for delivery?" Bonworth asks. "I think I've had enough walkin' for right now. I know there's a great Greek place two miles up the road that delivers and they've got a swell gyro."
  332.  
  333. "Sounds jake to me. Let's call it in and see what's on the tube for tonight," you reply.
  334.  
  335. "Hey, look at you!" he laughs. "Already picking up the lingo. Now you've got your boots on!"
  336.  
  337. As the two of you begin your trek back to Building 9, you glance over at Bonworth as he limps along.
  338.  
  339. "So, uh... how long?" you ask somberly.
  340.  
  341. "Two years," he replies instantly. "Y'know, it's not all that bad, though. I always did want to be just a touch taller."
  342.  
  343. "Do you mind if I ask how it happened?" You mentally kick yourself even as you're still forming the question on your lips. "Uh -- sorry, that's probably the last thing you want to talk to me about."
  344.  
  345. "Nah, it's fine," Bonworth answers. "At my old job, our manager wanted a safe installed in his upstairs office. Real classy one, too, like all the old banks in the picture shows used to have. Thought he could save a few greenbacks by having us install it, but the building didn't have an elevator, just stairs."
  346.  
  347. "Ooof. I have a feeling I know where this is going."
  348.  
  349. "Foxy and I were on the bottom, and another employee was up top. In hindsight it was a foolish notion that the three of us could've gotten it up the stairs, and we should have just gotten some professionals to do it. Lesson learned."
  350.  
  351. "So wait, is that what happened to Foxy?" you ask, eyes wide. That would explain so much.
  352.  
  353. Bonworth shakes his head. "Nah, he was able to jump clear -- that time. Me, not so much." He flicks his forearm with his right index finger, and you hear a dull metallic ring. "Fortunately they were able to at least save my arms. Makes metal detectors kind of a bummer, though."
  354.  
  355. "I can only imagine," you nod glumly as you climb the stairs to Bonworth's apartment. "Man, that's some rotten luck, Bonworth."
  356.  
  357. Turning the key in the lock, he inclines his head to you.
  358.  
  359. "Well, like I said before -- luck's what you make of it, Mike."
RAW Paste Data Copied